Sunday, June 19, 2016

Why do good people die young?

Tonight there will be a vigil held for a girl named Logan Davis who passed away this week. A vigil for a girl who all of her friends and family know her as someone who never met a stranger and impacted everyone's life that she came into contact with. I keep hearing people talk about her as being genuine, selfless, kind, beautiful, and so much more. I didn't know Logan personally, but from all of the amazing things I am hearing about her - I wish I did. She was only eighteen and had so much life left to live.

My heart aches for my hometown. Too often we hear stories similar to Logan's and all of it leads us to the question - why do good people die young? Children, teenagers, even young adults are taken away from everyone by death leaving us all in complete shock and sadness. These people made the world a better place by simply living. Their smiles and warm hearts could light up a room and turn any bad day into a good one. 

I'm staring at my screen trying to figure out what words to say that will make all of this easier to grasp. I came across this Bible verse in the book of Isaiah:

After reading that verse, I was reminded of a story I had heard before:
A great debate once raged in Heaven. It was over a most beautiful and precious soul that God had created. The angels debated what should be done with this soul. One group of angels demanded that this soul remain in heaven. "She is too pure, too holy to face the ugliness of the lowly world," they said. "Who knows what will happen to her in a world of temptation and evil. This soul must stay with us here." 
The other group of angels said the exact opposite: "Indeed this soul glows with a unique divine glow. But for that very reason she must go down to earth. For imagine the beauty and goodness this soul can bring to a dark world. What good is there in keeping such a soul in heaven? Let her descend to earth and shine her light there." 
And so they argued back and forth, each side unshakable in their view. The two sides couldn't decide, so they asked God. 
This was God's response:
"Indeed, it is sad to send such an immaculate soul into such a dark world. But this is My will. I only created darkness so souls like this one can transform darkness into light. The whole purpose of creation was that the lowly world be refined by the good deeds of mortal human beings. This cannot be achieved by souls in heaven. It can only be achieved through souls in bodies. And so even this most perfect and pure soul must descend to earth." 
The first group of angels, who requested for the soul to remain in heaven, were disappointed. They couldn't fathom how such a spiritual being could be expected to survive such a physical world. God turned to them and said, "As for your request to keep this soul up here, I will grant it partially. Though she must leave us and go down to earth, it will not be long before she will return to us. Her sojourn on earth will be brief. Such a brilliant soul will not need long to fulfil her mission. Soon she will be free to come back to heaven."

God then turned to the second group and asked, "Are you satisfied with that? Do you accept that this soul can only be on earth for a limited time?"
The angels replied, "Yes we do. Every day that she is on earth is a blessing."
I know it doesn't make it any easier... but maybe it can give perspective. God is protecting those from encountering the evil that was to come. He is not being evil or vindictive, but the opposite: merciful. 

So take these dark times as a time to reflect. Reflect upon all of the memories that you've made with the people that you've lost. But also reflect on the life you've been given and that you're still here today. Cherish that. Cherish every single day because you don't know if it will be your last. Treasure your loved ones because they may not be here tomorrow. Remember that in the end it doesn't matter how long you lived, but how you lived. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

To the girl who thinks she isn't good enough

Today I was listening to a motivational speaker and he asked the audience what their favorite thing about their best friend was. There were many responses. He's always there for me. She never asks me to change.  I can talk to her about anything. I can call him at 3am and count on him listening to whatever problems I'm going through. She tells me the truth even when I don't want to hear it.

Okay - now ask yourself what the common theme to these responses is. Does it have anything to do with how much money they make? How about how pretty they are? Or how smart they are? NONE of the audience members once talked about any of those aspects because they simply don't matter when it comes to describing a person's worth.

I know, I know... Who am I to be telling you about your worth because I've never had the thoughts you've had, right? I just don't understand where you could possibly be coming from. Here's a secret between the two of us, okay?

I understand your pain. 

You've always been the ugly friend, right? The one who wasn't the smartest, prettiest, or funniest one out of your peers. It's a never ending vicious competition and you never seem to get a leg up on the impossible standards. 

I understand that it sucks. That you're in your twenties and feel like you should have your life together, but you don't. You're pretty good at hiding your insecurities by now, because what friends you do have would probably leave if you complained all day. 

And now there's even more ways to compare yourself to others through all of the different social media outlets which makes you feel 10x worse. You're not engaged, but every ten seconds there's a shiny ring popping up on your Instagram feed and if you hear a friend say "don't worry, there's someone out there for you" one more time, you may throw your phone and laptop off the top floor of your apartment building. You haven't graduated college yet - and you just changed your major so you're even farther behind than you ever planned. Happiness only exists to those on the other side of your screen - the models, the popular ones blessed with good looks and charm, celebrities, etc. 

I understand.

But let me tell you a secret. You are enough. You always have been for you and everyone else. We all value everyone else's opinions way more than our own and it's a major character flaw. Until you learn to value yours before anyone else's, it'll be damn near impossible to find happiness. 

I challenge you to post a picture to your profile that you love yourself in and then don't check your notifications for the rest of the day. Because once you can do that and not care about the amount of likes/comments/whatever - you've won a small, but very important battle.  

Every day I want you to repeat these same words: I am enough. I am smart. I am worth it. I love my body and my personality and I don't give a damn if anyone else thinks otherwise. It sounds so cliché and silly, but it changed my life and brought me out of one of the darkest times I've ever gone through.

It took some of my best friends and family to finally break through to me and tell me those things. I would be lying to you if I told you that evil voice in your head goes away, because it doesn't... But I can tell you with full confidence that you can control it to the point where you'll go months and maybe even years without hearing it. The next time that you do, politely bluntly tell it to kiss your ass and move on.

Maybe you had a shitty home life... Maybe you went through a horrible breakup that left you feeling worthless. It's okay that you took the time to be sad and not smile for a while. Everyone needs to take time to heal, I believe that. But I also believe that your smile lights up the world and it's a dark place without it. You may not have found it yet, but soon you'll figure out where you belong in the world and you're going to excel. And the friends that don't want to see you do better than them? Forget about them. Surround yourself with those who lift you up. You don't need to be around toxic people because I can attest to the fact that you are the average of the five people you are around the most.

Do you want to quit school and be a kick ass make up artist but are scared of what you're parents will think? Who cares, do it. You have to live with the choices you make, not them. Make yourself happy first and foremost.

Do you want to travel the world? Do it. Work your ass off and make those dreams a reality.

Either way, you're not going to get anywhere by not believing in yourself and throwing a pity party 24/7. So stop feeling sorry for yourself and go do something to get you where you want to be.

If it helps, you always have me on your side and I'm here to talk any time you want with no judgment. So that's already one friend on your side and I'm sure you have way more than you even realize.

The girl who used to think she wasn't good enough.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Don't adopt that cute puppy

As a dog mom, I'm a strong advocate of everyone else coming to know the same joy of pet ownership that I have. Having something that loves you unconditionally and depends on you for everything is a bond like no other and gives you a purpose that you didn't have before.

With that being said, I also think that just wanting a dog is not all that comes into consideration. No, love is not enough. Cue the dramatic music that follows a hollywood break up scene. All too often I hear about the girl (Let's call her Sally) who is at the local humane society with her friends and without any second thought, that cute puppy (let's call him Spot) looking through the cages is now in the back seat of her car. But what's wrong with that? you ask... Sally who just adopted this fluff ball of joy is also enrolled in 17 hours of class with 2 jobs and roommates who want to play with her puppy but not deal with the responsibilities that come with it.

So what happens when Spot is stuck in a crate for 10+ hours at a time, doesn't get any kind of training, and is costing you money left and right that you never planned for? The local ad pops up on my news feed:

Did you not realize the time commitment you were signing up for? Let alone the medical responsibilities you accepted when getting this dog. SURPRISE dogs need shots and much more care beyond that. They need attention, training, and exercise. For the love of God people, please think it through, because putting a dog through multiple rehomings is not good for them.

Here are some questions I've compiled that you could ask yourselves or ask your friend when they tell you they want a puppy:

  1. Where are you going to be living for the next 10+ years? The average lifespan of your new friend is about 10-13 years... You need to understand that for the next decade it is now your responsibility to make sure that wherever you're going to live is pet-friendly and that you can pay for that deposit so your furry family member gets to come with you.
  2. How much can you spend? Think about the cost of adopting that puppy.... and multiply it 10 times and then keep adding more money after that. You cannot predict the things your new dog will need so you need to have means of paying for it. Whether that's saving a lump sum of cash to have on hand or having an available line of credit that you can pay off after the fact. Moral of the story, Spot is expensive and it's your responsibility to foot the bill. 
  3. How much free time do you have? I'm not saying Spot has to be with you for every second of the day, but you need to make sure he gets the right amount of exercise/socialization/training whether that's with you or with a trainer. Regardless, spending his puppyhood in a crate is miserable and you might as well have left him in the cage at the shelter. 

Even though caring for my sweet pup is rewarding, not all of it is long walks in the sunset or cuddles on the couch like my Instagram feed might have you convinced. Some nights I don't get sleep because Hank ate something he shouldn't have and I wake up to throw up all over my feet. Some days I get home to him having gotten into the trash and dragged it across every square inch of my house. Some times, love and cuddles isn't enough to get him better and next thing I know I'm at the vet swiping my credit card because I don't have enough cash.

The best advice I can give any busy college student such as myself would be this: check off the above things that I mentioned and MAKE SURE you have a strong support system behind you. I can't tell you how many times my roommates or boyfriend would watch Hank for me when I got stuck in a bind and couldn't be there for him. Maybe opt for the dog that's already a few years old and house trained to save you some headaches/security deposits later down the road. Save that adorable puppy for when you're retired and have nothing but time on your hands to ensure that dog grows up to be the dog you want him to be.

Okay I'll step off my soap box now. Tell me about your adoption stories with your furry friend because I love hearing about them!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Transgender access to bathrooms

By now, everyone has heard about Obama's administration issuing a directive to all public schools across the nation to allow transgendered students access to whichever bathroom they identify with. Although there is no law to back up this directive, he has threatened to cut the schools off from any federal aid that do not wish to comply. He also said that there would be lawsuits to follow. Both Justice and Education officials signed this declaration in hopes that certain students will no longer be discriminated against.

On social media, I've seen many of the following comments:

"Am I just naive or how many transgender students do we really have in grade school? .5%? 1%? (I'm guessing but can't imagine it's many) So we are seriously going to confuse the hell out of >99% of the student body to appease the government for what reason??"

How exactly would this be confusing the rest of the student body? There will still be a boys and girls bathroom, but the kids whose gender identity doesn't match their sexual identity given at birth can use the bathroom that they feel to be comfortable with. I feel like it would be more discriminatory/confusing to add a third bathroom for these individuals... I don't see how this would be  any different than when there were separate bathrooms for those of different skin color. 

"These are kids they don't even know who they are yet the Democrats are trying to turn kids into transgender kids WTF people wake up these are our children."

PLEASE give me the reasoning behind this statement because I am at a loss for words knowing that people in this world actually think this way. Let's throw it back to Intro to Psychology and the very old nature vs. nurture debate. Nature refers to the way a person's genes are expressed and nurture is how the person's environment has shaped them. Whether or not someone is homosexual or heterosexual or transgender is not based off of nurture, rather it is based off of nature. As a matter of fact, extensive research done at Johns Hopkins Children Center proves just that - that gender identity is almost entirely based on nature and is almost exclusively predetermined before the birth of the baby. Two studies conducted by William Reiner, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and urologist, have confirmed that the amount of exposure to male hormones and androgens in utero almost exclusively decides whether the child identifies as masculine or feminine (Thanks, Penn State for the info)

"Yep gotta keep those 5th graders from seeing the other genders genitalia..."

And again, WHAT am I reading here? Every bathroom I was exposed to growing up as a kid had stalls and I didn't simply walk around flaunting my private parts to the other classmates. And if anyone did that, they would be expelled (I actually went to high school with a guy who did that and was expelled, but moving on...) After talking to some friends of mine, they all went to school where the boys' bathroom had both stalls and urinals. So if a female identified as a male, he could use the stall in the boys' bathroom with no problems at all. I definitely agree that young kids shouldn't be exposed to other's private areas, but whether a transgendered student is using the bathroom they identify with has nothing to do with it. Any kid flaunting around what they have should be punished regardless of their gender identity. 

I think the government is actually moving in the right direction with this issue for once and I fully stand behind them in support. I think there is a better solution, for instance: getting rid of the boys and girls stalls altogether and creating stand alone bathrooms that aren't labeled anything other than "restroom". No one is excluded, there's no chance for children to be confused (insert eye roll here), and everyone is happy. 

What do you guys think about the issue? I know it's a hot topic and let's face it, I'm always up for a good debate.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Leaving the world of nursing and entering in to....

For those of you that know me well, you know I am such a nerd when it comes to science. If it came down to choosing between working in a lab or working with people, hands down I would choose working in a lab because most people are annoying.

I have taken such a huge step in my college career today and I'm so excited to share it with you! I have officially switched my major to Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensics and a minor in Biology.

To give you a quick peak into my upcoming course load, here's a few classes I get to look forward to:

  • Criminal Investigations
  • Death Investigation
  • Evidence
  • Drug Identification
And to satisfy my love for biology...
  • Principles of Biology I/II
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • and much more!
If you didn't catch last week's post, you're probably wondering what happened and why I am no longer a nursing major. To read about it, click here! Long story short, it took a rejection waitlist letter from the program to realize that nursing isn't where my heart lies and I am so thankful to have the amazing advisement staff at the University of North Georgia to help me along with this process. 

Basically, my future is going to (hopefully) look a lot like Abby's life in NCIS... minus the quirky clothes and pig tails.

Thanks for reading and I can't wait to share my experiences with these classes come Fall semester!